Dickerson goes wire-to-wire; Allen has to fend off late challenge
March 22, 2022 by Charlie Eisenhood and Christopher Wiklund in News, Recap with 0 comments
Although the tournament offered just 25% of the normal DGPT points, a strong field competed in Belton, Texas, thanks in part to its convenient location near Waco and Tyler, the sites of the Waco Annual Charity Open and Texas State Disc Golf Championships, both Elite Series events.
Dickerson entered the final round with a dominant six-stroke lead, a margin by which he has never lost in his career. It was the first time since September 2020 that an MPO player held a 6+ stroke lead entering the final round of play at an Elite Series, Silver Series, or Major tournament. Right away, Dickerson’s tee shot on hole 1 got pushed by a stiff wind out of bounds, shaving two strokes off his lead after Ricky Wysocki birdied. After two bounceback birdies, he erred again on hole 4’s drive, when he kicked out of bounds left and had to scramble just to save bogey. At that point, his lead was just three shots. From there, though, Dickerson stabilized, avoiding OB and any further bogies and finishing 4-under over the final 14 holes. His lead never dipped below three strokes.
“When you wake up with a lead like that, all you’re thinking about is ‘don’t mess it up,'” said Dickerson. “And early on in the round, that’s what I was doing; I was messing it up. And I was just fortunate enough to fight back toward the middle and continue that a little bit to the end, that way I didn’t have to go for [holes] 17 and 18.”
Teeing off 90 minutes later, Catrina Allen had a one-shot lead over Kristin Tattar going into round three. Through a back-and-forth round, Allen overcame going out of bounds on back-to-back holes with a pair of birdies to stay in control of the round. Meanwhile, on the chase card, Valerie Mandujano was shooting lights out, finishing with an 8-under par for the day’s hot round and putting her just a stroke behind Allen.
Allen entered hole 17 with a one shot lead over Tattar and two over Mandujano, who was ahead on 18. Tattar’s forehand drive smashed the first tree off the teepad; Allen got safe through to the fairway. Allen was in a good position to simply layup for a par putt after getting her upshot inside Circle 1, but she went for it on the elevated basket. Her putt offered up too much hyzer with a strong right to left crosswind and it missed chains and blew down the hill to about 40 feet from the basket. It was a stunning mistake that opened the door for both Mandujano and Tattar. Allen got up and down for bogey and entered 18 tied with Mandujano. She would need a birdie to avoid a playoff.
Her tee shot on 18 floated a bit and came dangerously close to some of the early fairway trees, but it landed safe. She had to throw a wide forehand hyzer around a tree up to the green — it was perfect. She tapped in a five foot putt to win her second straight Open at Belton and the fifth win at Belton in her career.
“A little wind, golf course style but some woods holes, lots of strategy,” said Catrina Allen when asked about why she’s successful at Belton. “And, I don’t know, I just love how excited [TD] Neal [Dambra] and the crew are when we get to town.”
This was Allen’s second win in 2022 after she took down the Las Vegas Challenge to start the season.
Tournament Talk from Chris Wiklund
We got our first full round of Brodie Smith during round 1, which DGN provided (very good) post produced coverage of. Smith looked solid overall, but a 1-over on the back 9 severely undercut his performance on the front. No surprise that he did well off the tee, hitting 75% of fairways which was good for fourth overall, but he wasn’t able to convert any of the touch shots for solid scoring. Smith shot better and better each round, and a tie for 16 is his second best career finish.
Putting was the weakest part of Paul McBeth’s game in 2021, and he showed major improvement in that facet at Waco. This weekend he slipped a little bit, hitting at 84% from inside 30 feet and 25% from circle 2. Considering the conditions were much more forgiving this weekend, I would have liked to have seen those numbers a bit closer or even better than in Waco. And, to be fair, McBeth had an excellent round two with the putter, hitting 90% from inside the circle and 43% from outside 10 meters. I’m going to make a call now: McBeth will not win any event this year in which he putts at 88% or worse. The rest of the field is just too good off the tee, and so much of the McBeth Factor is about his ability to remain rock steady and cool on the putting green.
Valerie Mandujano, Kristin Tattar, and Catrina Allen have been shooting the lights out this season and continued to do so at Belton. It’s not wholly surprising — these three players possess a big advantage off the tee relative to the field, which helps make up for their middling putting game. With the exception of LVC, where Paige Pierce took second and Mandujano was not in attendance, the trio of Allen, Tattar, and Mandujano have been your FPO podium finishers at three of four events this year.
While it’s no shock to see Allen and Tattar collecting podium cash, it is somewhat surprising to see Mandujano up there. But probably it shouldn’t be. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been hearing so much about the Mandujano sisters nascent stardom over the past several years. Perhaps it’s the win-or-who-cares mode of discussion which tends to dominate disc golf conversations, or perhaps it’s because the Europeans, Kona Panis, and Missy Gannon have taken a lot of the oxygen about “new” FPO talent. Take a look at Mandujano’s PDGA page and we shouldn’t be surprised that she’s having a great start to 2022.
In 2021, Valerie Mandujano played in 11 elite series events and finished in the top 10 in 6 of them. Of those 6, she had three top 5 finishes and never landed outside the top 20. It’s worth noting that 2021 was her first year competing in the west coast swing of the tour, and this year she is taking another crack at it. She has never competed on the East Coast swing, and we are officially submitting our humble request that she gives it a try. Mandujano is the obvious early frontrunner for Breakout Player of the Year, and at this moment, is the third best player in the division behind Allen and Tattar.